Over at Forbes, Gene Marks has a piece up entitled “If I Were A Poor Black Kid” that registers somewhere between “poorly thought through” and “awful.” Marks, a business tech writer, says:
If I was a poor black kid I would first and most importantly work to make sure I got the best grades possible. I would make it my #1 priority to be able to read sufficiently. I wouldn’t care if I was a student at the worst public middle school in the worst inner city. Even the worst have their best.
Forbes has provided a useful service in linking to responses generated by the article. Ta-Nehisi Coates has a thoughtful response that uses the article as a jumping-off point to discuss empathy more generally:
If you really want to understand slaves, slave masters, poor black kids, poor white kids, rich people of colors, whoever, it is essential that you first come to grips with the disturbing facts of your own mediocrity. The first rule is this–You are not extraordinary. It’s all fine and good to declare that you would have freed your slaves. But it’s much more interesting to assume that you wouldn’t and then ask “Why?”
You can get by just fine without reading the Marks piece. But you should be sure to check out Coates’s.